• The Foundations of Social Contract Theory
    Dissertation, Cornell University. 1997.
    Hypothetical social contract theory is the predominant framework that political philosophers use to argue for conceptions of social justice. A hypothetical social contract theory consists of an initial situation, in which parties are imagined to make a rational agreement about the way to design their politico-economic institutions, and a conception of justice to which these parties would agree. My goals in the dissertation are to determine the most warranted initial situation and the conception …Read more
  •  110
    Meaning (Atheism)
    In Graham Oppy & Joseph W. Koterski (eds.), Theism and Atheism: Opposing Arguments in Philosophy, 1st Edition, Gale. pp. 507-521. 2019.
    A critical exploration of the position that God is necessary for meaning in life for mainly undergraduate and postgraduate readers, with some defence of the view that He is not.
  • Reprint of an article that appeared in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (2017).
  •  6
    Much of the debate about post-secularism has presumed a background of Western countries and the sort of statutory law that legislatures should make, and how they should make it, in the light of residents’ religious attitudes and practices. In this chapter I address a fresh context, namely, that of South Africa and the way that courts have interpreted, and should interpret, law in the face of African traditional religions. Specifically, I explicate the fact that, by South Africa's famously progre…Read more
  •  24
    In my view, postmodernism, as a cluster of bold epistemological claims, foundered on the rocks of contemporary science. Many postmodern positions about knowledge have conflicted with views of science that are extraordinarily difficult to doubt, which in this short article (composed to honour Educational Philosophy and Theory's 50th anniversary), I point out and argue holds a lesson about how to undertake the philosophy of education.
  •  167
    There has been the recurrsent suspicion that community, harmony, cohesion, and similar relational goods as understood in the African ethical tradition threaten to occlude difference. Often, it has been Western defenders of liberty who have raised the concern that these characteristically sub-Saharan values fail to account adequately for individuality, although some contemporary African thinkers have expressed the same concern. In this chapter, I provide a certain understanding of the sub-Saharan…Read more
  • Many values originating in Africa and in China, and ones that continue to influence much of everyday communication in those societies, are aptly placed under the common heading of 'harmony'. After first spelling out what harmony involves in substantially Confucian China, and then in Africa, this article notes respects in which the Confucian and African conceptions of harmony are similar, an awareness of which could facilitate smooth communication. The article then indicates respects in which the…Read more
  •  92
    The dominant view amongst contemporary Western philosophers about the essence of a natu­ ral object is that it is constituted by its intrinsic properties. The ontological approach salient in the African philosophical tradition, in contrast, accounts for a thing’s essence by appeal to its relational properties. The Afro­relational ontology is under­developed, with the primary aim of this article being to help rectify that weakness. Specifically, this article’s aims are: to articulate an African a…Read more
  •  1
    Humility and the African Ethic of Ubuntu
    In Mark Alfano, Michael Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Humility, Routledge. pp. 257-267. 2020.
    This chapter explores prominent respects in which humility figures into ubuntu, the southern African (and specifically Nguni) term for humanness often used to capture moral philosophies and cultures indigenous to the sub-Saharan region. The chapter considers respects in which humility is prescribed by ubuntu, understood not just as a relational normative ethic, but also as a moral epistemology. Focusing specifically on philosophical ideas published in academic fora over the past 50 years or so, …Read more
  •  38
    In this article, I seek to answer the following cluster of questions: What would a characteristically African, and specifically relational, conception of a criminal trial’s final end look like? What would the Afro-relational approach prescribe for sentencing? Would its implications for this matter forcefully rival the kinds of penalties that judges in South Africa and similar jurisdictions typically mete out? After pointing out how the southern African ethic of ubuntu is well understood as a rel…Read more
  •  23
    Advancing the Philosophy of Medicine: Towards New Topics and Sources
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (3): 281-288. 2018.
    The first part of a symposium devoted to Alex Broadbent's essay titled ‘Prediction, Understanding and Medicine’, this article notes the under-development of a variety of issues in the philosophy of medicine that transcend bioethics and the long-standing debates about the nature of health/illness and of evidence-based medicine. It also indicates the importance of drawing on non-Western, and particularly African, traditions in addressing these largely metaphysical and epistemological matters.
  •  15
    Medicine without Cure?: A Cluster Analysis of the Nature of Medicine
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (3): 306-312. 2018.
    Part of a symposium devoted to ‘Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine’, in which Alex Broadbent argues that the nature of medicine is determined by its competences, i.e., which things it can do well. He argues that, although medicine cannot cure well, it can do a good job of enabling people not only to understand states of the human organism and of what has caused them, but also to predict future states of it. From this Broadbent concludes that medicine is (at least in part) essentially a prac…Read more
  •  508
    Community Vitality
    with Ilona Boniwell and Rowan Conway
    In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.), Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape, Centre For Bhutan Studies and Gnh. pp. 347-378. 2017.
    An analysis of the value of community vitality as it figures into the Royal Government of Bhutan's policy of Gross National Happiness.
  •  1099
    Good Governance
    with Johannes Hirata, Ritu Verma, and Eric Zencey
    In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.), Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape, Centre For Bhutan Studies and Gnh. pp. 329-346. 2017.
    An analysis of the nature of good governance as it figures into the Royal Government of Bhutan's policy of Gross National Happiness.
  •  351
    Definitions of Terms
    with Alejandro Adler, Ilona Boniwell, Evelyn Gibson, Martin Seligman, Yukiko Uchida, and Zhanjun Xing
    In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.), Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape, Centre For Bhutan Studies and Gnh. pp. 21-38. 2017.
    Definitions of terms that are central to a theoretical understanding of the Royal Government of Bhutan's policy of Gross National Happiness.
  •  16
    A collection of several articles on African moral and political philosophy by Thaddeus Metz, translated into French by Emmanuel Fopa, and edited and introduced by Pius Mosima of the University of Bamenda, Cameroon.
  •  96
    Why Objective Truth Is the Ally of Social and Epistemic Justice: Reply to Jenco
    Journal of World Philosophies 2 (2): 130-134. 2017.
    In “Are Certain Knowledge Frameworks More Congenial to the Aims of Cross-Cultural Philosophy? A Qualified Yes,” Leigh Jenco responds to an article in which I had argued for a similar conclusion. I had contended roughly that the positing of objective truth combined with a fallibilist epistemology best explains why a philosopher from one culture could learn something substantial from another culture. In her response, Jenco contends that this knowledge framework does not account adequately for the …Read more
  •  85
    I consider the implications of two globally influential love-centred value systems for how to respond to painful memories that are a consequence of large-scale social conflict. More specifically, I articulate a moral-philosophical interpretation of the sub-Saharan worldview of ubuntu, and consider what it entails for responding to such trauma. According to this ethic, one should strive to become a real person, which one can do insofar as one honours those capable of communal (or broadly loving) …Read more
  •  26
    Ends and Means of Transitional Justice
    Journal of Global Ethics 14 (2): 158-169. 2018.
    With her new book, The Conceptual Foundations of Transitional Justice, Colleen Murphy has advanced novel, comprehensive and sophisticated philosophical accounts of both what severely conflict-ridden societies should be aiming for and how they should pursue it. Ultimately grounded on a prizing of rational agency, Murphy maintains that these societies, roughly, ought to strive for a stable and legitimate democratic polity committed to not repeating gross historical injustice and do so in ways that…Read more
  •  22
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in _Ethical Theory and Moral Practice_ (2012)
  •  45
    English-speaking research on morally right decisions in a healthcare context over the past three decades has been dominated by two major perspectives, namely, the Four Principles, of which the principle of respect for autonomy has been most salient, and the ethic of care, often presented as a rival to not only a focus on autonomy but also a reliance on principles more generally. In my contribution, I present a novel ethic applicable to bioethics, particularly as it concerns human procreation, th…Read more
  •  196
    This chapter expounds relational values characteristic of indigenous Africa and considers how they might usefully be adopted when contemporary societies interact with each other. Specifically, it notes respects in which genuinely human or communal relationship has been missing in the two contexts of globalization and international relations, and suggests what a greater appreciation of this good by the rest of the world would mean for them.
  •  34
    Gross National Happiness: A Philosophical Appraisal
    Ethics and Social Welfare 8 (3): 218-232. 2014.
    For more than 40 years, the Kingdom of Bhutan has eschewed evaluating its socio-economic status in terms of Gross Domestic Product and has instead done so under the heading of ‘Gross National Happiness’. As part of the upswing in international interest in well-being as the proper final end of development, it would be apt to critically explore the approach that has been in use for several decades. In this article I expound the central elements of Gross National Happiness and discuss their strengt…Read more
  •  62
    How to Reconcile Liberal Politics with Retributive Punishment
    Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 27 (4): 683-705. 2007.
    There is a deep tension between liberalism and retributivism. On the face of it, one cannot coherently believe liberalism about the fundamental purpose of the state and retributivism about the basic end of legal punishment, given widely held and well-motivated or what I call ‘standard’ conceptions of these views. My aims in this article are to differentiate the types of conflict between liberalism and retributivism, to identify the strongest and most problematic type of conflict between th…Read more
  •  62
    These are major excerpts from an interview that was conducted with Professor Kwasi Wiredu at Rhodes University during the 13th Annual Conference of The International Society for African Philosophy and Studies in 2007. He speaks on a wide range of issues such as political and personal identity, racism and tribalism, moral foundations, the Golden Rule, African communalism, human rights, personhood, consensus, meta-philosophy, amongst other critical themes.
  •  11
    Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study (repr.)
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (2): 1--4. 2016.
    A brief summary of the main claims advanced in Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study, largely cribbed from the Journal of Philosophy of Life (2015).
  •  60
    Confucianism and African Philosophy
    In Toyin Falola & Adeshina Afolayan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 207-222. 2017.
    A reprint in English of 'Confucianism and African Conceptions of Value, Reality and Knowledge' (International Social Science Journal, Chinese Edition, 2016).
  •  20
    Cultural Pluralism and Its Implications for Media Ethics
    In Patrick Plaisance (ed.), Communication and Media Ethics, De Gruyter. pp. 53-73. 2018.
    In the face of differences between the ethical religio-philosophies believed across the globe, how should a media ethicist theorize or make recommendations in the light of theory? One approach is relativist, taking each distinct moral worldview to be true only for its own people. A second approach is universalist, seeking to discover a handful of basic ethical principles that are already shared by all the world's peoples. After providing reasons to doubt both of these approaches to doing media e…Read more